Yesterday, I had to spend several hours on trains moving across Germany. Being an experienced entrepreneur, I obviously had prepared myself perfectly and lots of work to be done. When I arrived back home yesterday night, I had done almost nothing of it — and yet, I felt great.
Most of the time during the outward run I spent communicating about a potential new venture. Not planned at all, but I have a weakness for re-prioritizing everything as soon as a new venture appears on the horizon. During the last leg, I shared a compartment with an opera singer who was on her trip to a performance that night. As it went, we were in a very intense conversation about the opera, cultivating a healthy voice, parenting — and — positive effects of periodical nose showers (!). It always fascinates me that it’s possible to talk with strangers about quite intimate stuff if there is some common ground and a general sympathy for each other.
On my way back, I missed some trains and without a seat reservation I had to stand or visit the infamous on-board restaurant, which I did. I asked a lady to share a table with her which she approved. A few minutes later, we started one of the best conversations I have had this year. Being a medical research manager responsible for a team of 30 researchers and doctors at a university, she provided me with great insights in today’s world of medical research, especially its challenges regarding budget limitations. From more mundane aspects of how to incentivize top researchers to actually do research work at a university and not follow the money and work for some industry player, to ethical aspects of medical research and different underlying concepts of man of Europe vs the United States.
A trip of 4 hours became en entertaining pastime with lots of new insights for me ( I hope I could return the favor by elaborating on diverse aspects of decentralization). And although I ended up with lots of undone work I had a very pleasant feeling of enrichment. I was right to prioritize conversations over work. I learned more and added more to my life by talking to interesting, sympathetic people with backgrounds totally different from mine.
Start talking to people who you think could be interesting, who are different from you and who seem to appreciate your approach!